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PRESS RELEASE

January 6, 2004

Frances Marine
(850) 245-0413

Florida's Community Colleges Continue to Lead the South
State leads in retention and graduation rates among members of SREB

TALLAHASSEE — Governor Jeb Bush and Education Commissioner Jim Horne today announced that the Florida Community College System (FCCS) once again is leading in retention and graduation rates among the sixteen members of the Southern Regional Education Board (SREB). Community Colleges Chancellor David Armstrong praised the continued dedication of the faculty and staff at each of the twenty-eight institutions within the System.

"As we continue to focus on providing all students with the skills they need, more of them will go on to higher education," said Governor Bush. "Our community colleges stand ready to play a vital role in helping them reach their potential."

Each year the SREB gathers information on different facets of higher education. Among these are retention and graduation rates. With a retention rate of 76 percent, the FCCS was 21 points above the SREB average. With 30 percent of students graduating, Florida's community college students were 13 points above the SREB average.

"Florida's Community College System is often ranked best in the nation and the figures released by SREB this week tell us why," said Commissioner Horne. "Not only are more students enrolling in community colleges in Florida, more of them are staying and completing their degrees."

Florida produced more associate degrees and certificates than any other state in the region, which includes Texas and North Carolina. FCCS accomplished this while maintaining low tuition rates and high faculty salaries. The annual tuition rate for the FCCS was only $1,583. This rate ranks Florida eighth out of the sixteen member states. The average faculty salary was $45,803, slightly more than $2,000 above the SREB average and fifth in the region.

"This report confirms that our faculty, student services and support staffs care about the right things - student success," said Chancellor Armstrong. "Higher education is not about who has the best football teams, largest buildings, or the most money - it's about helping students reach their educational goals. Our faculty and staff care about teaching and learning, and these data confirm that they are doing a great job."

For more overall and state-by-state information, visit:
www.sreb.org/main/EdData/DataLibrary/datalibindex.asp.

For school-specific information on Florida's community colleges, visit:
www.sreb.org/main/EdData/DataExch/dataexchindex.asp.